Jason Collins Receives Standing Ovation, Will Sign Extended Contract
Say what you will about Jason Collins’ coming Out last year and the reasons behind it, he’s still the only openly gay professional basketball player currently playing in the league who’s Out to the general public.
He recently signed a 10-day contract with the Brooklyn Nets and last night stepped on the court to play his first home game with the team where he received a brief standing ovation from the crowd.
The New York Times also reports that Jason Collins is close to signing a full contract with the Nets for the rest of the season, despite talk that the signing was just a publicity stunt:
A person in basketball with knowledge of the situation said Monday that the Nets will be giving Collins a second 10-day contract this week, and it would be more than mildly surprising if he did not end up with a deal for the rest of the season.
Who would argue that Collins has not already justified the tactical signing while fulfilling a personal mission?
When Collins joined the Nets late last month, Adam Silver, the new N.B.A. commissioner, called the first 10-day contract “a legitimate basketball decision.” What may have sounded like a prepared party line was the truth.
The Nets needed a big man to fortify their frontcourt. Certainly they would have preferred to add a player who was more athletic and prolific than the 35-year-old Collins, but good luck finding an unemployed one four months into the season.
They went with an aging veteran who was familiar to their coach, Jason Kidd, a former teammate of Collins’s, and to several veterans. It took one game for Collins to actualize Silver’s assertion.
The typical 10-day signee lends a practice body and tries to look focused at the end of the bench. Collins was an immediate contributor as an N.B.A. temp worker, playing several minutes down the stretch of a narrow victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.
On a night when he was being widely watched for reasons unrelated to the game, Collins did the little basketball things that are often overlooked. The box score has never been his best friend. Nor have many commentators on social media since he declared his intention to play on after coming out in a Sports Illustrated cover story last spring.
But in the short time since he returned to the franchise with which he spent his first six and a half seasons, Collins has demonstrated why he hung around the league for a half-dozen more despite virtual statistical irrelevance.
Those tangible realities may not satisfy black gay gossip bloggers who see Jason Collins as a “gimmick,” the fact remains that Collins is a veteran in the league and will go down in the history books.
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